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Buying a new scope for your new rifle or perhaps the other way around?!

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Here at Vector Air, we are known for high-value scope options that we regularly team with rifle packages. We are also known to have a great selection of rifles, both mainstream and unique. This normally means that you may also want a scope to fit your requirements from your rifle. However, one thing that veteran shooters all agree on is that your scope is more important than your rifle. Where you may require to change your rifle for your individual needs or change of circumstances, your optics normally are able to be transferred to your new air rifle sometimes with as little change as a change of mounts. This typically means that you're optics last longer than your rifle...

So what should you do about this? Should you purchase your rifle first and then use the change to buy a scope? Or should you do what veteran shooters do and purchase your scope based on your requirements for your rifle and then with the change purchase the rifle itself?

Buy the gun first

If you are part of a small shooting club or perhaps an online social media site you know as well as us that the most captivating content is that of a new gun. A new gun can get more likes. It can get more feedback. It can gain you access to a unique, cultural acceptance of other users who own the same gun as you; so there is no doubt that in these situations, a new gun is great for your social status and arguably a great thing to do.

Buy the Scope first

If you are planning to use an air rifle as a tool or for gaining one-upmanship in competitions; the single best thing you can do is ensure your optics are able to operate in the realm that you need them to work in. This means if you are shooting targets, ensure your scope is suitable for shooting targets. If you are a pest controller, make sure that you are able to use your scope in the environment and in the situations in which you need to carry out your job. This may be easier said than done. However, quite often, the communities you are part of will be able to offer a level of suggestion for what you require out of your scope. If you are an experienced user, you may find that you already know what you need out of scope.

What Scope

Below is a guide that we use for novice shooters who are perhaps just getting back into the game or maybe have never shot before and are now wanting to start a new hobby or perhaps have a small pest problem that they need to solve by themselves. Please note that this guide is just that; a guide. It is not exhaustive. It is not 100% correct as with most guides it is purely based on our experience. Not necessarily yours all we can do is give you our outline and our sales experience for you to make an educated choice.

First Focal Plane (FFP) or Second Focal Plane (SFP)

The scopes on the market differ by a few key factors, the chief one is the focal plane type. This is the FFP (first focal plane) or the SFP (second focal plane). This is purely based on how the scope behaves when zooming in. On an FFP scope, the reticle changes size as you zoom, this means that your holdover marks (the lines in a scope) stay relative to your target. This essentially means that at both a low mag and a high mag the same lines are used to find your target; for example, if you know that your scope is zeroed at 25m but to hit a 50m target you have to move to 1 line down, with a first focal plane this is the same line regardless of zoom. With a second focal plane, you have to learn how many lines down your ranges correspond to. With this, first focal plane scopes tend to be used for hunting when the first shot has to be correct. second focal planes are used more for target shooting, where you know the exact distance and can compensate.

Optics Specifications

The second factor of scopes is their optic specification. This is the magnification level and light transmission, these are the result of both the optical quality. Scope diameter of the tube, length and the size of the end lens all play part in defining the optic specifications of your scope. Essentially to have a higher quality scope you want a higher number end lens the "44" in the 4-16x44 as well as a larger tube the "diameter" the standard is the 30mm for scopes (1 inch is the old standard) these 2 factors contribute to the "light transmission" rate, this number changes based on many factors, hence why it is never really stated on scopes.

Your scope power is the numbers before the "X" so the "4-16" in the 4-16x44. This is the number of "times power" of the scope. If you imagine your eyes see at 1X power, this number amplifies your eyesight by the factor displayed. Therefore if you are shooting small targets far away, you would want a higher second number so you can clearly see the target. However, a higher magnification can mean target acquisition is harder as the scope is more sensitive to movement. Imagine trying to thread a needle with longer arms, you are naturally less steady.

Illuminated or not?

Finally, you may have seen the GT or IR variant of the scopes, all this means is that the reticle of the scope is illuminated (a red dot in the middle or fully illuminated crosshairs) this helps with the target question in a lower light situation, essentially speeding up how fast you move from rest to ready to shoot. If you only shoot in the day, this may not be a necessary option for you, however, it is nice to have.

Quick Guide

So a good rule of thumb is:

  • Pest/hunting: FFP scope

  • Target: SFP scope is fine

  • Hybrid: FFP is better, but an SFP will do if your budget is tight

Magnification rules:

  • Long-range (50-70m): 6-24

  • Mid-range (30-60m): 4-16

  • Short-range (25-40m): 3-12

Do not fall prey to the "I want a long-range rifle" be realistic with how far you are shooting and what you are shooting. Choosing an unrealistic magnification can result in the falsification of the power and range of your rifle.

Think we missed something?

Let us know in the comments below.

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